a true allegory

I met the Devil the other day, in a dream. I was lost, looking for my siblings, and found him in an alley, among the boxes. He had fallen there or slept there--I can't remember. He was charming in that way of boys who are up to no good, surprisingly self-deprecating. He was red-faced, red-bodied, black-horned, and was he wearing a suit?

I asked to touch his horns, and he bowed to let me. I considered this a gesture to show him no, I'm not afraid of you. He seem to think it an everyday show of condescension, like he was used to it, like of course girls want to touch his horns, like it would win me over.

I asked him about heaven and hell, of course.

Heaven, he said, was like a never-ending game of make-believe. Everyone had power and everything was possible, but even that would get boring after an eternity. No?

My thought was that the creative would never grow bored. I'd love it.

Hell, I think was more of the same. He pitched it as more fun, if you attached to this world's "fun." He said the kinds of things you would expect a devil to say, like that's not me, that's all you guys and ultimately, God is the one in control. My powers are like a subset of Theirs.

He didn't sway me. I think I told him I was muslim, like I say to scare off missionary. And anyway, I had to get going. I was searching for my family. Wait, he said, me too. We're the same.

I was already moving to explore the California of my dream, but I asked why he was here on Earth and what he hoped to find. Ideas, he said, and smiled weakly like a Hollywood confidence man but I had no sympathy, none at all.

synonym for pixie cut

when a boy plays peter pan then

some year after year his voice would break

his body strain muscles mass wrestle free

his beard a tell breaking loose of the young or the green

and he would no longer fly.


but if i woman

took on the suit then

still wild at thirty at forty

laugh dew light dancing

unshadowed & weightless scent

forestborne greenhorne each dimple

each jab forgiven & winsome

hair a peter cut because it on

a woman makes the eternal boy

music is black

pitch black, such that

any other color is to drain it wan & thin

til it no longer goes so oceandeep

soaking every nation as it does now

one drop dyed the world.


America was born blue in the face

from a bruise with a welt, a wail

new forms of sorrow we six-fingered devils

spun pain into gold into gospel aimed up at a God

remixed to love us back

a God with a little bit of vodun

made the whole church jump with hollers

chants ecstatic & nine-high


music is black because we said once, hey l

et me show you what a fiddle can do l

et me show you, Joplin said, how to twist ivories

into a new grey matter

let me show you, Coltrane said swirled some classical

into this new thing young thing wonderchild jazz

made America's orchestra Duke Dizzy Basie Cab's

bop moanin swung & modal black tie brass

& double bass modern that blinded warcannons



instead of pedigree, our kings & queens

rose merited through soul jazz & swing

the hardest-working we’ve always been

temptations impressions miraculous supreme

Brown-ness & Wonder

conscious & soul music

for marches Malcolm Martin & Mayfield


music is black just look

at a speaker grille don’t listen to Elvis

or Boone's lies disguises & covers for housewives

sanitizing to hide its right fever

as they clutch Grammies close like pearls

whether 'round a midnight fire

or the 1s & 2s revolving

even now the roots of K-pop & J-pop

are Chuck's duckwalk Mike’s moonwalk

an nameless cakewalk a vine teen's poplock


in Ibiza they thrum to the 4-4s & boom

birthed in Chi-Town & Mo-town warehouses

machine sounds rhythms smuggled on hambone on ships

funk that rode in our hips

techno the grandson heartbeat of disco

needle skip the next rebellion is Brazilian

b-boys call parana e parana e, parana

Zion-bound war-ready they break free

bush meeting is block party


music is black

though they dogwhistle urban sneer inner city

Sister Rosetta & Jimi

means it's been ours take all into your ears

rock & roll was rhythm & blues was race music

which said on the very face of it

this is your little corner

our back of the record shop


but we sampled & shared laughs

ate well grew big grew loud until

nothing could hold our voices

until nothing could hold us

grew beautiful & still sing

both, neither, and both

a woman is a wanting

a girl is a gasp a

boy is a sigh

the gift of daggers to the sky

i make a man shoot star water

dappling black sheets

gravity is how women beckon

the wet of atmosphere

the expansion of space

inhale or exhale which came first?

you-- i-- fold and unfold

truth bodied & tactile language,

in and out until everything is new

a woman is a secret

a boy is a fact

or statement a girl can rewind time

men interrupt space with limbs

while women like me are so

nothing as to be all

i hold the deepest hunger

no monolith or obelisk can please

i demand tribute i take all light,

men like you liquid things to fill me

where is my boy that gives and takes

i am a girl that births sustains destroys

i am that i am both neither and both

a man has me erupt

(fire is blood to a meteor and)

i have him accept, embrace

we fold together make breath

we original singular mass defeat heat death

heaven's reward fallacy

God doesn't like that celebrity you dislike

God is just

God's likes are equal to ten thousand likes or a hundred thousand whatever it takes to make you happy

God ignores your ex for you

God likes everything your best friend has ever posted online

God gives and takes away

God let your parents spank you and let your mother miscarry after you

God helped you find those family photos in the attic that one time and the memories just came flooding back

God likes how skillfully you describe the innocence of your childhood of social media

God wants you to get that raise

God sees how well you tip

God watches you eat local

God loves how you love animals

God knows the wallet was empty when you found it

God knows you didn't mean to hit her that hard

God believed you first

God let your abuser get off scot-free because it’s good for you

God will have him crash while drunk driving and he will post a selfie from the emergency room but he won't die yet (it will be liver failure)

God knows when you will die of breast cancer, that you will die of breast cancer you are unknowingly attracted to pink ribbon merchandise

God loves you back

God is busy watching sports

God has a favorite team and it’s the same as yours which is the same as your dad's

God wants you to get that energy drink caught in the vending machine it's meant to be yours

God lines up the green lights just perfect for you to catch the bus on that one day for that crucial interview Thank God! you say once for yourself and once to the interviewer

God loves praise

God is like you in that way

God gave you DD boobs but didn’t make you blonde you made yourself blonde and you took selfies at the salon you took selfies at the gym

God loves every face you made

God made Candace blonde

God gave Candace parents that gave her a BMW in high school and a Porsche in college there she goes tagging herself in her family's cabin #ilovemylife

God hates Candace as much you do there is no Fuck You button on Instagram but your fingers are like God's as you ignore her but one day yes one day someday eventually... and you can’t wait until the afterlife

poems about insecure attachment

there was a hole in me where

Home should be, a childhood

deep & a mother wide

my filling is praise receipts

& prayers  names crumpled days

by the handful a

megaphoned song for anyone

digital lights singing i'm still hungry


the hole in me a lover tall

(i told myself) and burrowed

huddle small but

she was an ontologist who spoke rainfall

named as adam did the animals

unmade monsters into nothing

my absence into absence

once, each blink destroyed the land

--to a child, everything dies at night but me

but then she gives object permanence

brown & fertile

in two cupped hands

to plant.


there is more love

in the bus driver's thumb

when he covers the slot

it's okay, go ahead

as my card chirps from hunger

as I stall and my purse coughs


than the thousand soft sighs,

rising wonders and longings

forming cloudlands for dreamed selves

of downcast-eyed boys

love poems for myself

you are the cutest little boy asleep

like a heathen legs wide & sheet-tangled

a bed of rainbows & donuts & all your best friends

(are silent) no Deco artist designed you

gangly neotenous elbowed& kneed thing

til death adolescent the plaid skirt itself

breaks curfew ah! it rises and swirls

like the first ever turns red-black stripe red-black

baby-halty eyes widen

the discovery of girlhood that wet

of a body still being learned--another naked dance

for a body still being learned--the first personal language

the last cartwheel is far too distance

the sand that drips from your underfoot

is sandiegan the hands' undertan knows

the blue-brown mix of beach

(& this can be a song in Robinese)

for applemound breasts & pearbottom

peachvellum tree brown yes & blue & future blue

the afro sprouts has become a halo

of strangers' caught compliments our thought cloud

in the glow of somewhere else you carry

& will one day return to a star or sun isn't that right?

first world

what it first meant was:

the strongest buildings still announce bomb shelter

sturdy tan boxes where

before i was born

my parents cousins possible friends

learned to hear sirens and crouch under desks


what it really meant was a blue for freedom

like the seas between us

an arbitrary line drawn in bullet or tank track

red over there, for blood we still desire


what it means now is that a children's tv show

told me to save water.

i choose not to i like the fizz of its pressure,

white with excitement after brushing my teeth

& after the first spit, i cup my hand,

lower my mouth

lips to the water,

ah! how tasty how endless beautiful clean & free

there are things blackness hasn't touched

or doesn't touch

or will or should, like


the cork-hat or the cork-hatted man,

his sons: Irwins, Kratts, Hanna

in safari tan, all.


or the mother of watching, who crouches

hidden recording & watching a band

or family troop or community that--

(how does she rank them? a step above us? me a step below her?)

in the light of the college's chapel

what did she think when i raised my hand and voice:

'i think their rights are not as pressing

for now'? or the plant-fed girls seated around me


or the father of altruism, sitting tenured

over his envisioned drowning child,

hands forming professorial barrels

around something like 'liberation'

--i want to say he stole that word

just as his young infiltrate a farm quicker than a prison,

free cattle sooner than a man


before all that, i lay before the tv

(9 or younger

(legs swinging

(hair still braided)

with my animal books & a notepad

sketching the photos of roseate spoonbills

pallas cats

fennec foxes

endangered and extinct:

that whales this pigeon that tigers

i am not Black yet

when we are all beasts


a human onscreen talks of warmth and breasts

& i realize my mothers (& my own someday)

but i don't yet weigh men's bodies

against dogs or lions;

link the wildness of the Motherland

to my own blood

or recognize the yokes or cages & colonies in it no


i learn somethings of Human Nature,

build my morals it brick by fact by brick

they tell me something about tooth and claw

violent innocence green wonder

black theory has yet to address

poems about particles and/or waves


to the dumped me

someone quoted that a good love

is one with someone who thinks the sun shines

out of your ass.


well i think everyone is made of starstuff

(gay enough to want to be liked by every pretty girl)

but i have once or twice seen a body where light burst unbound

from every orifice

rays freed shone enough to bask in,

irradiation that made me high


& the sources so?

or thanks my wife saw it first, or sees it brighter

or i don't believe you and ran


hey me too,

i don't yet believe i (woodhued clayborne gangly thing)

speak anything but dioxide poison

prove me wrong i tell the wait

& listen for someone's awefilled gasp

at what cosmic timeless light i hold

(of a bird) to wave or open and shut (its wings or tail) with a quick flicking motion

i am a little bit dense

of a girl, teasing out love's phonemes or quanta

to destroy implication.

i like must never mean i will sleep with

nor should a yes to dinner.

i wonder how to make words mean only meaning,

would sentiments expire?

how often should we renew?


can it work if a kiss does not mean union

does not means future

does not mean only

just why not? or that you are deft or pretty,

have trust or flavor.

must a held hand contain a therefore

& because & if i'm beautiful, yes thanks but so?

that doesn't tie me to you

(sometimes you are beautiful & i never want to touch you)


there is no space in love to fit forever,

we can announce each tomorrow

instead, each whens calms me

more than touch yes each

plan is a palm stroke

promise makes the back arch


is coffee coffee?

or simply your place--no

but i want to hear it:

my home my body my ownership 

(which is still no certainty

what is in your bookshelf?

or game or film or meal instead)


the last boy's language was a reclining

& a firm claiming; a want that grew

when passed from body and back

to body and back to body

in blameless animal language


say, what muscle, of eye or lip

led you on as you claim?

what red what flash what fever

sorry. i am a little bit foreign of a girl, to all customs

the only mating dance i know i have written for myself

poems i wrote in my head while biking through the black side of town


about the time we tied a jump rope to a glass door.

(it was fun for a while) to play single-dutch,

young limbs too unsynced to share.

would it say something other than to beaver's stray baseball?


or to the frisbees collected on the white gravel

of the roof of our lopsided yard, 

on our hillsided street;

tossed back to californian blond(e)s,

on a scale from oops to neglect, just what


or while biking through the black side of town

( an immigrant home also wanted by gentry) 

i spy ahead, the tremor of the filament in a broken taillight,

wondering what depth or death is rattling there


here i see dandelions,

a sidewalk that threatens a spine,

parallel parking just a little too ascrew

& if i get lost drop or spill or mistake out here

alone (i hear censure whispering feel eyes)

how would Broken Window Theory judge it?

alternative lineages for black folks who prefer democratic representation

Welcome, melanated ones. We live in a democrative republic, yes?But the Democrats and Republicans do not want us; what now? Should we return to Monarchy? No, let's keep the equality of all but instead of kings and queens, try reaching into your blood, your past, to discover who you are. Your great grandfather and great great grandmother and their greats were Great, no doubt. And you, descendent must be....

Defenders & Warriors: You who hewed the path, warscarred, fireblooded, loyal. You body was toned, reflective black tendon beautifully tensed and trained. Your Greats and Greats stood shoulder to shoulder, vowed and expired. Your bones remember some betrayal. But also, pure strength: an arrow twang, a spear's thud, the many of a home kept safe, yes, even now.

Healers & Doctors: You know the body, as those before you knew theirs and their lovers. Blood is in your blood, inured against pain. There is magic on your tongue, wise saliva. The Black grey matter from your Greats and Greats, you have been handed, to save.

Givers and Lovers: You are the reason you are here, so great is your empathy. You cannot harm because you hurt when you hurt. You must give care. Your tears grow forest. Your Greats and Greats grew shells and so must you, callouses to save you. Love flows from you, an unbroken chain from the past to whom? You must choose wisely where to give.

Artisans & Crafters: Your Greats and Greats had nimble fingers, birthing hands, whose children Oppressors and Others might erase. But look! That column, that cake, that carriage! That melody, that road, that garden. That mansion is your mansion. Even unsigned uncredited, it all is yours. Your fingers know as they whittle or carve. Whether they clench clay or marble, it is home.

Thinkers & Teachers: You knew another name for Anamnesis. Some other tongue will unlock the memory of your Greats and Greats, who may have failed to record. They stored their findings in the minds of the young, abstract seedlings passed down and down to you. Whatever is not known to you, you have been made to learn or relearn, but most of all, regive.

Explorers & Heroes: Much of the new doesn't feel so, to your blood. Your Greats and Greats found the whole world, the first world, before. Strangers just repeat. You must go farther, longer, deeper, more; to the moon, the wandering planets, the sun. You will live forever if it saves the day.

Storytellers & Seers: You can see the past if you wish, a closed-eye-view to your Greats & Greats but moreover, you must see beyond. Can't you feel it? In dreams or in songs? Whatever is not given, you envision to make. You must tell others to turn the vision real.

Rebels & Tricksters: You are alive for the same reason as ever: outsmarting someone. Maybe the taxman, maybe death. Maybe Oppressors or Others, you've dodged. They are bigger but you have money in your shoe and butter on your tongue. Your Greats and Greats played cards with the devil to win you skills; be careful! Don't singe yourself when you burn things down, take someone with you against the Way-Things-Are. You are a cool fire, quicksilver or lava.

Muses & Mystics: Everyone watches you. They are hungry, for how you set their lives aflame, ineefable. Inspiration in your lungs, they want to kiss or lap it up, to suck and gain. Your Greats and Greats knew the unknowable. Even god was jealous, let alone man. You will be chased, as they were, but you are forever just beyond and will never be caught.

Guides & Seekers: You carry a torch, never lost. Your brothers and sisters huddle to you, whispering in the darkness, which you do not fear. Your Greats and Greats made peace with darkness, with unknowing and wayfinding. True North is deep in you, stars look like family's faces. Your love of the sun becomes language, it tells you where to go. Or it doesn't, and you blaze the path.

Dancers & Artists: Being is most being to you than anyone. The uncreative life is no life at all. You have the most of it, more and more of it, until it makes your body move. It bleeds out of your fingers, words or colors. Or streams out of your mouth, lyric and rhythm. Your Greats and Great were thought mad, so full of newness and More and Making. You are beauty itself; you are all the above.

You melanted one, are one of many, equal to all and master of a niche that the Greats and Greats carved out for you. And yet, you can choose to change. Give and break and carve something new, for those who come from you someday. Farewell.